In Part 1 of a series of interviews with the cast of WSC Avant Bard’s production of Friendship Betrayed—a classic comedy by Spanish playwright María de Zayas y Sotomayor—meet Alani Kravitz.
Joel: Where have local audiences seen you perform recently on stage?
Alani: Most recently you might have seen me in the Source Festival Ten-Minute Plays in June. Before that I understudied for Scena’s production of The Norwegians, as well as Signature’s Sunday in the Park with George and a smattering of others. June of last year was my Avant Bard debut, in Nero/Pseudo.
Why did you want to be part of the cast of Friendship Betrayed at Avant Bard?
Because I want to be Kari Ginsburg (our director) when I grow up. She is such a generous, playful director and understands all of my babble in the rehearsal room. On top of that, Friendship Betrayed has this incredibly passionate text, and this wonderful self-referential humor that is well ahead of its time. The characters feel such big emotions that you rarely get to play with in modern theatre.
Who do you play in the show? How do you relate to her?
I play Belisa, cousin of Marcia (Megan Dominy). In our production, Belisa is a relatively new import to the social circle of the play, but has not wasted any time in having her share of drama. I love Belisa; she is, in the words of Kari, “A character of opposites.” She feels things on an immense scale, but has a fierce set of morals. Those two butt heads a lot, and the emotions win over propriety several times throughout the play (no spoilers). I think we are very alike in that we see that there is a way it is “fashionable” to be, and a way we choose to be in spite of that. Also, we are not to be underestimated *cue devilish grin*.
What’s the show about from the point of view of your character?
Belisa believes that once you have pledged your faith to another, you are theirs and they are yours. Simple as that. Call her old fashioned, she prefers romantic. Unfortunately, people around her seem not to quite understand that truth, namely her own beau, Don Juan (Christian R. Gibbs). From Belisa’s perspective, Friendship Betrayed is about people finding their way back to the people they are meant to be with, especially herself.
Kari Ginsburg, the director, has set Friendship Betrayed in the 1920s. How are you creating a classical character with Roaring Twenties appeal?
That is difficult! But the ladies of the Twenties didn’t apologize for their wants and needs; in fact, they were celebrated for it. These ladies (and gentlemen) of the play love and hate unabashedly, and while propriety is always overhanging, their own drama trumps any rules written for the older generation. I think it is a unique mixture that works remarkably well. And I can’t wait for the costumes (designed by Rhonda Key)!
What is your favorite scene that you are not in, and why?
Oh, that’s easy. Belisa is a huge fan of her cousin Marcia finally getting together with Gerardo (Brendan Edward Kennedy), a noble young man who has loved her for… let’s just say a very long time. I won’t give spoilers, but there is a scene with Marcia and Gerardo that produces many a sigh/squeal/very loud cheer from those of us watching. When you see it, you’ll know.
What is your favorite line or lines that your character says, and what is your favorite line that someone else says in the show?
Belisa says something to Leon (Connor J. Hogan) about women who have a lot of men who she gives her love to. She says, “Leon, those are not real women. They are filthy harpies, a confused hell where the souls of those poor men suffer eternally.” That, in a nutshell, is Belisa. And “filthy harpies” is so fun to say.
As for another character, I do find a lot of truth in Lucia’s (Mary Myers) line “how can a woman who lives by lying ask her men to tell her the truth? You are foolish if you believe that”—not only from Belisa’s perspective, but because it is one of the themes of the play. There is a lot of lying in this play, and those who lie get their punishments handed to them.
What are you doing next on the stage?
Last year, I did a production of Pinocchio! with Faction of Fools at NextStop (Helen Hayes nominated) and we are officially doing a remount at Capitol Hill Arts Workshop from November 27-December 19th. Fun for the whole family!
What do you want audiences to take with them after seeing Friendship Betrayed?
I want them, first and foremost, to relax and enjoy the rollercoaster. There is a lot that happens in this play, and trying too hard to understand every character’s every line may not be as fun as letting it all play out in front of you. And despite all the drama, it really is a comedy. But I don’t think you’ll need my help to figure that one out!
Friendship Betrayed plays from September 10 to October 11, 2015 at WSC Avant Bard performing at Gunston Arts Center, Theatre Two – 2700 South Lang Street, in Arlington, VA. For tickets, call the box office at (703) 418-4808, or purchase them online.